Question of the Week 9

 Hi All,

Everyone's doing well this week, so I'll dig out another golden oldie. On the below board, a lot of pairs bid 6 Spades or 6 Diamonds, but the writers, despite being DSS, stopped short. How should it go? 

North                                 South

ª A K 6                               ª Q 9 7 4 2

© A 6                                   © J 9 2

¨ A K J 9 7 6 2                   ¨ 10 3

§ 3                                      § K Q 3


North opens 2 Clubs with his 7-card suit and 22 points (19 HCPs) and South bids 2 Diamonds, waiting. North rebids 3 Diamonds and South rebids 3 Spades to say "I've got enough for game, but I'm not sure about the Diamonds". North rebids 4 Diamonds to say, "Don't worry about the Diamonds" and South stops to reevaluate and think. 

South decides that his two Diamonds are adequate support and make partner stronger. He figures North for 26 points or more (21 plus 5 or 23 plus 3) opposite his 8 points and he wants to get to slam. He would like to check the Aces, but 4 No Trump wouldn't be a jump and they haven't overtly agreed on a suit. Partner might take that as "to play" and pass. Being DSS, he just jumps to 6 Diamonds.

Some pairs made 6 Spades for a better score, so we need to think about that. To get there, one of them needs to know about the the 5-3 fit. Not everyone plays these hands the same way, so we must address that.

Some pairs play "Steps", but we'll ignore that since it is the worst possible way to respond to 2 Clubs. Some pairs respond with a 5-card suit and 8 points. That would make it easier to find the fit, but gets in opener's way and might make it harder to bid the slam. It's almost always better to let opener describe his hand.

Let's assume South responds with a waiting 2 Diamonds and North rebids 3 Diamonds. South is relatively certain that partner has a 5-card suit with 25 points, a 6-card suit with 23 points or a 7-card suit with 21 points. If he lacks points for game, he will pass, but with enough he will continue. He can assume 6 or more and just go with the Diamonds, but it might be wise to check first.

South wants to bid something to say that he has enough for game, but isn't sure of the Diamonds.  I think most pairs would want the opener to rebid his suit with 6 or more and switch with just a 5-card suit, so South must help partner find a safe place, if necessary.

This is the advantage of having a regular partner. They could agree, for instance, that when I bid a new suit over your rebid, I have a decent 5-card suit and you may raise with adequate support. When I bid 3 No Trump over your rebid, I have no obvious suit and you can pass, rebid your suit, bid another suit or raise No Trump. 

In this case, South would probably bid 3 Spades, North would rebid 4 Diamonds with his 7-card suit and South would raise to 6 Diamonds. If he had better Spades and worse Diamonds, he might try the Spades again.

Would I change my system, because the Spades scored better this time? No way!